The EU Court of Justice on the ‘relevant public’ in trademark genericisation

The EU Court of Justice (ECJ), with its decision of 6 March 2014 (Case C-409/12), shed new light on the issue of trademark genericisation by drawing the boundaries of the concept of ‘relevant public’ and by clarifying the relevance of the ‘inactivity’ of the trademark holder.

The case at issue regarded the alleged vulgarisation of the trademark ‘Kornspitz’, registered by an Austrian company for a particular kind of cereal flour and for bakery products.

According to a competitor of the trademark owner, due to the large-scale use of the ‘Kornspitz’ products among bakers in Austria, the term has become a generic designation for a characteristic bread roll, well known among consumers, thus exposing the trademark to revocation under Austrian law for loss of distinctive character…

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